The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) which we
start reading this week,
is also known as Toras Kohanim -- the Laws of the Priests.
It deals largely with the korbanos
(offerings) that are brought in the
Mishkan (Tent of Meeting). The first group of
offerings is called
korban olah, a burnt offering. The animal is brought
to the entrance
of the Mishkan. Regarding cattle, the one who
brought the offering
sets his hands on the animal. Afterwards it is slaughtered and the
kohen sprinkles its blood on the altar. The animal
is skinned and cut
into pieces. The pieces are arranged, washed and burned on the
A similar process is described involving burnt offerings
of other animals and birds.
The various meal offerings are described. Part
of the meal offering
is burned on the altar, and the remaining part is eaten by the kohanim.
Mixing leaven or honey into the offerings is prohibited.
The peace offering, part of which is burnt on the
altar and part is eaten,
can be either from cattle, sheep or goats.
The Torah prohibits eating blood or chelev
(certain fats in animals).
The offerings that atone for inadvertent sins committed by the
kohen gadol, by the entire community, by the prince and
by the average citizen are detailed.
Laws of the guilt-offering, which atones for certain
transgressions and for transgressing laws of ritual purity are listed.
The meal offering for those who cannot afford the
normal guilt offering,
the offering to atone for misusing sanctified property, laws of the
"questionable guilt" offering, and offerings for dishonesty